It's been a wild week in Catholicism, and just in time for the holidays!
First, the vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops -- a liberal -- was ousted for the much more conservative Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
Then remarks Pope Benedict XVI made regarding condoms confused some, alarmed others, and were cheered by a few confused, yet hopeful, others.
In speaking with a journalist, the Pope let his, and the Catholic church's, no condom stance slide just a tiny bit when discussing the prevention of HIV. Previously, the Pope has said only abstinence and fidelity could prevent the spread of AIDS. Which is zero help to the faithful of Africa, where the epidemic continues to ravage many populations.
But this time, Pope Benedict decided one exception could be made in the case of condom usage. Was it married couples in danger of contracting HIV from a partner? Perhaps children sold into prostitution?
No, that would be too compassionate and logical.
Instead, the Pope is considering an exception from his no-condom-no-matter-what stance only in the case of male prostitutes.
The logic of this exemption escapes me, even after the editor-in-chief of Ignatius press and former student of Pope Benedict explains:
“It would be wrong to say, ‘Pope Approves Condoms,’” Father Fessio said. “He’s saying it’s immoral but in an individual case, the use of a condom could be an awakening to someone that he’s got to be more conscious of his actions.”
And the act of getting stuck in a dryer may be an awakening to someone that they shouldn't drink so much.
Listen Benedict, you're not doing anything to debunk the talk about priests having unconventional (and unacceptable, in your church's eyes) sexual proclivities.
But more importantly, all people should be able to protect themselves from disease regardless of their gender, orientation, or profession. And to be able to do so without the fear of eternal hellfire from their church's leaders.
I realize you may choose your own religion in most parts of the world, but someone who is raised in a specific faith and believes the word of the one true leader is indeed the word of God takes this stuff seriously.
I suppose I should be grateful for the Catholic male prostitutes out there who now feel okay about sliding on a condom, but I can't help but feel that population is dramatically smaller than young girls and boys forced or coerced into the act, whether the end result is HIV or pregnancy. There's a crisis here, and telling people not to have sex offers a negative solution and will result in more death, disease, and unwanted pregnancies.
Sorry, Pope Benedict, your "one exclusion" is just weird, and offers next to no help to your devout followers. Try again?
Image via Sergey Gabdurakhmanov/Flickr